Medicago lupulina

Tracheophyta MagnoliopsidaFabaceaeMedicagoMedicago lupulina


An annual or short-lived perennial herb of dry grassland and disturbed places on relatively infertile neutral or calcareous soils; often in sunny S.-facing pastures and on roadside banks, waste places and walls. Its has a long-lived seed bank. Generally lowland, but reaching 440 m at Nenthead (Cumberland).



World Distribution

Eurosiberian Temperate element, but widely naturalised so that distribution is now Circumpolar Temperate.

Broad Habitats

Light (Ellenberg): 7

Moisture (Ellenberg): 4

Reaction (Ellenberg): 8

Nitrogen (Ellenberg): 4


Salt Tolerance (Ellenberg): 0

January Mean Temperature (Celsius): 3.8

July Mean Temperature (Celsius): 15

Annual Precipitation (mm): 963

Life form information

Height (cm): 50

Perennation - primary


Perennation - secondary


Life Form - primary

Therophyte (annual land plant)

Life Form - secondary


Comment on Life Form

The books say annual or short-lived perennial



Clonality - primary

Little or no vegetative spread

Distribution information

Count of 10km squares in Great Britain: 2064

Count of 10km squares in Ireland: 686

Count of 10km squares in the Channel Isles: 13

Atlas Change Index: -0.43

Weighted Changed Factor: 8

Weighted Change Factor Confidence (90%)


Distribution information

JNCC Designations


PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.

Atlas text references

Atlas (102d)
Grime JP, Hodgson JG, Hunt R
1988.  Comparative Plant Ecology.
Hultén E, Fries M
1986.  Atlas of north European vascular plants north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols.
Meusel H, Jäger E, Weinert E
1965.  Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 1. 2 vols.
Turkington R, Cavers PB
1979.  The biology of Canadian weeds. 33. Medicago lupulina L. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 59:99-110.